How Hashtags Became #Trendy


In recent years, you may have seen a trendy little symbol pop up more and more. It started on Twitter, but has since made its way into Facebook, Instagram, and almost every other social media platform, and has even snuck into our everyday speech. In fact, it’s so pervasive that the Oxford English Dictionary added it to its repertoire in June 2014.

Let’s start the discussion by taking a quick poll:


What is this symbol called: ‘#’ ?

Pound Sign
Number Sign
Tic-tac-toe Grid


Based on what you answered, we’re going to make an assumption about demographics. Our best guess is if you answered anything but ‘hashtag’, you were probably born before 1985. Back then, people simply knew the # as the pound sign, not the hashtag. Today, many people immediately think of a hashtag when they see the pound sign. The association has completely changed in the mind of the digital user and brands have taken notice. Like most disruptive ideas, the hashtag had humble beginnings before rising to the top of your feed.

Though Twitter made it popular, the hashtag originated in 2007 when Chris Messina (@chrismessina) pitched his idea to Twitter with the intention to categorize groups and messages. According to a Business Insider article, Messina received a big thumbs-down initially and even was told by his Twitter peers that “These [hashtag] things are for nerds. They’re never going to catch on.” They couldn’t have been more wrong. #Newsflash, everyone uses hashtags now and the invention of them was actually integral to Twitter’s rise in popularity. When Twitter agreed to adopt hashtags, they grew concurrently with the company at an exponential rate.

In just ten short years, brands have capitalized from hashtags and used them as a vessel to connect with consumers and grow their brand promise. Social advertising campaigns now rely heavily on the hashtags to encompass the overarching theme and message behind each campaign. With a sound concept and unbeatable execution, hashtags can make or break a social media campaign. It all boils down to relevancy, engagement, and knowing your audience. Listen to them and understand how they communicate and you’ll find they begin marketing your product for you. Additionally, with a bold theme and call-to-action, hashtags can be a dynamic platform for contests.

Want to learn how to use hashtags in your campaign? Here are our top two favorite hashtag campaign from successful marketing efforts that surpassed their competition winning the ultimate prize: spurred conversation and social media buzz.

1. Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke – Highly visible and playful, this hashtag makes Coca-Cola consumers feel uniquely special with personalized labels on Coca-Cola products. So special, that last year’s iteration of the campaign yielded 250,000 social posts sporting the #ShareACoke hashtag. Taking it a step further, Coke partnered with Twitter back in September to launch the social media platform’s very first paid brand emoji, otherwise known as a ‘hashflag.’ Since then, many more hashflags have emerged from brands following suit.

2. Charmin’s #TweetFromTheSeat – This campaign found success and resonated quite well with younger audiences because it made arguably the most unattractive topic appealing, approachable, light-hearted, and unforgettable. According to The Wall Street Journal 40% of people aged 18 – 24 use social media in the bathroom, which completely pays off the quippy campaign hashtag. Charmin’s use of humor encouraged the brand’s audience to participate and leveraged toilet jokes based on telling statistics.

Hashtags are an integral piece of social media campaigns and imperative for a brand to put themselves on the map. They really get the people going! If you are interested in learning more about hashtags, or want to know how to use hashtags for events such as weddings, corporate events and social events, stay tuned for future blogs all about the famous symbol.

Interested in seeing another social media campaign that made waves? Check out the Growing Little Minds awareness campaign done by yours truly.

Read the case study